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Teri Mar 4th, 1999 06:42 AM

Calling on Experienced Rail Travelers
I just bought a 1st class europass. I am planning on a Friday overnight trip from Paris to Berlin in late March. From experience, do you think this train would be crowded this time of year? I called to make a reservation today for a sleeper car and they told me it would be $70 per person, which is steep for me since I just paid for the pass. I can reserve a couchette for $27 per person in second class. What do you recommend? Should I just make a reservation over in Paris two days before I plan to leave? That will be cheaper, but risk a chance of it being sold out? Can you even sleep on trains away? Any help/advise is greatly appreciated.

jeanne Mar 7th, 1999 09:14 AM

Teri <BR> <BR>I was doing a lot of "commuting" for a client last year between Paris and Cologne and did the train thing 5-6 times. <BR> <BR>Whether you can sleep is mostly dependent on your own nature and whether you have changes to make. For instance, I had to take the high speed train to Brussels and change, then the "milk run" to Koln, so I probably couldn't have slept much. I am not sure about the exact route to Berlin, but this time of year should not be too crowded. The French, interestly enough, seemed more organized than there German counterparts-I noticed that people igneored the reservations signs more on the German side-so I don't know if reserving helps much. I would look at the raileurope site and chek out the exact routing and look at the type of train (high speed, normal etc.), and if and where you have to change before I make a decision. This might give you a clue whether to spring for the couchette or not. I think I would probably stay in the first class area regular seats before the 2nd class couchette-in France these are generally bunkbeds and if you aren't really asleep for the whole trip, you generally can't sit-you are kind of forced to by lying down-whcih can be kind of a drag the cramped space-so you end up in the cafe car a lot. <BR> <BR>Since different routes have different sleeping configurations, you might be best to wait til you get to Paris and go to the train station nearest your hotel-they all have really good information centers and you can ask them much more specific questions. Although I speak French, they always have someone who is pretty good at English since train stations are big tourist spots. <BR> <BR>hope this helps

Elizabeth Mar 7th, 1999 09:47 PM

Don't reserve a 2nd class couchette. Awful. 1st class is okay. Best is the sleeping compartment, and if the $70 is for two people, that is not high, that is a bargain. Make your reservation when you get to Paris. You won't have a problem. <BR>All train stations in Paris have excellent international train reservation department and the English is usually quite good. Sleeping in a train compartment is wonderful. With other people in a couchette, I don't know, we gave that up long ago, but it is cheaper.

Jay Frank Mar 8th, 1999 02:59 AM

My wife and I thuroughly enjoyed a 21 day europass vacation, including some overnight trips. I'd suggest spending the $70 bucks (and, I'm sure it'll be $70 bucks per person). <BR>

Ben Haines Mar 13th, 1999 10:07 AM

<BR>In late March we're approaching the rush season of Easter, and at that time people usually book a berth two weeks in advance. It is true you are being stung. On that train, bought in Paris, the couchette supplement is 18 US dollars, and the second class sleeper is 55 dollars, per person. <BR> <BR>One approach might be this. You reach Paris two days before you leave. You could book at once upon arrival, probably at a rail desk in your arrival airport. If the berth you want is available on the through train, Paris Nord 2046, Berlin Zoo 0918, fine. If not, using a railcard, you could take the Hamburg couchette or sleeper on the same departure at 2046, change in Hamburg Huuptbahnhof at 0718, leave by EuroCity restaurant car express at 0802, and reach Berlin Zoo at 1042. With all these cars to choose from, I'm pretty sure you'll get a bed for the night without paying an American agent over the odds. <BR> <BR>Will you sleep ? Nobody knows. I sleep like a log. You certaibly won't if you've only a seat and no berth. Otherwise, there are ways of getting comfoirtyable, and with tyhe E-mail copy of this note I am attaching a note I have on disc on the subject of night travel in Europe. <BR> <BR>Nobody ignores reservations on sleepers and couchettes: there are conductors to see them if they try. If you hasve a couchette place and don't feel like sleep yet, take a bottle of wine and three paper cups, walk along to a nearby seated coach, and pass an hour there before bed. You'll want a serated place anyway if you're eating a picnic supper. <BR> <BR>If the couchettes are German then for 25 dollars as against 18 you can have a couchette in a 4-berth compartment, which I find more restful. Second class sleepers on the 2046 train are three to a compartment <BR> <BR>Please write if I can help further <BR> <BR>Welcome to Europe. <BR> <BR>Ben Haines, London <BR> <BR> Our Privacy Policy <BR> <BR>

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